Using Flowcharts in Project Management: A Quick Guide

2022-08-08 16:38:37
Gaurav Sharma
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Summary : Considering using flowcharts in project management, but not sure where to start? This post will get you started by providing all the information you need.

A Guide to Using Flowcharts in Project Management

Flowcharts are a visual representation of data, especially pertaining to a flow of activities or steps from one direction to another.

These are helpful in organizing data and helping you understand workflows and processes within your organization. That’s why using flowcharts in project management is crucial as they can help you streamline processes and be more efficient.

If you want to be a successful project manager, you need to learn how to use flowcharts for project management.

In this post, the benefits of flowcharts for project management, the types of flowcharts that can be used, and how to create them will be explained. Here we go.

What are the Benefits of Using Flowcharts for Project Management?

Here are the key benefits of using flowcharts in project management:

  • Visual Representation: It helps you visualize complex data in an easy-to-grasp manner that enables easier understanding.
  • Better Understanding: Flowcharts help you and your team understand processes and workflows at a granular level. They break down complex processes into simple tasks and activities.
  • Issues Identification: When you can visualize complex flows as a series of smaller steps, it’s easier to identify inefficiencies and fix issues.
  • Process Improvement: Flowcharts also help find bottlenecks and streamline processes and workflows.
  • Team Coordination: Flowcharts help everyone be on the same page about what is to be done, by whom, and by what time. This allows for people to coordinate and work better together.

One of the key causes of project delays is poor planning and flowcharts can help you avoid that. Now that I’ve cleared that, let’s understand the key elements of a flowchart and how to make one.

What are the Key Elements of a Flowchart?

Before we discuss how to use flowcharts in project management, you need to understand how to make one. For that, you should know the key elements that are used to create a flowchart.

Here’s an illustration of all the elements of a flowchart and their names.

Image Source: ZenFlowchart

Now, let’s discuss some of the more important ones in brief.

  • Terminal: The terminal symbol is used at the beginning and the end of a flowchart for start and stop buttons.
  • Process: This is the symbol you’ll probably use the most in a flowchart as it shows the steps involved in a process.
  • Decision: It’s used to show a point in the flowchart where you need to make a decision, based on which you’ll proceed in different directions in the flowchart.
  • Input/Output: The parallelogram symbol shows points of data input or output.
  • Arrow: An arrow, also called a flowline, shows the direction of flow from one step to the next.

Check out this example to see how all these elements work together to create a flowchart.

Image Source: Lucidchart

How to Use Flowcharts in Project Management

Here is a step-by-step process to create a flowchart for project management.

1. Identify and Map Out the Key Steps

When creating a flowchart, you should start simple and list the most important steps in the process.

You can start by drawing the start symbol, adding a few process symbols, and ending with a terminal stop symbol.

This will give an overall direction and structure to your flowchart.

2. Break it Down Further Into Smaller Steps and Tasks

Every stage in a process comprises many smaller steps and tasks that need to be completed before you can move to the next step.

Once you have a broad overview of key steps, break each down into smaller steps or tasks or activities to make your flowchart more granular.

Start with the first step and identify a list of smaller steps, and replace the main step with these smaller ones. You can add as many process symbols as required.

Do this for each process symbol to create an exhaustive list of steps or activities that make your flowchart complete.

3. Add Details to Each Step and Create a Flow

Next, you get into the details of each step and see where you need to create data input or output boxes, or any other special elements.

Also, write a brief description of each step, assign roles and responsibilities, and add time for completion (if relevant).

Basically, fill out all the details to make a detailed flowchart for project management.

4. Use Decision Boxes and Add New Branches

This step can be done in conjunction with the previous step.

While adding details to your flowchart you might need to add decision boxes. These will be at points where a decision will decide in which direction you will proceed in the flowchart.

By adding decision boxes, you create different branches of your flowchart, with different elements. Move from start to finish and add decision boxes where relevant, and create as many branches as required.

Once you do this, you’d have created a detailed flowchart for project management.

If you want to take things a notch higher, you can create a video of your flowchart to further enhance comprehension.

5. Test the Exhaustiveness and Logical Flow

After you’re done creating a flowchart, it’s time to test it and find any gaps that may need to be filled.

Enlist the help of your team and ask them to go through the flow of activities and see if you’ve missed anything. Analyze and dissect each symbol and see if there’s a logical flow from start to finish.

Once you’ve tested your flowchart, you can publish it and share it with all the team members. Project management becomes much easier with flowcharts, so ensure that you create accurate and comprehensive flowcharts.

Just like you use ClickFunnel alternatives to create sales funnels, you can also use alternative tools to create complex project management flowcharts. These will make the above-mentioned process much easier and quicker.

Types of Flowcharts for Project Management

Here are some of the main types of flowcharts that you can use for project management.

1. Process

It’s useful for mapping out the steps in a process and the order in which they need to be taken.

2. Value Stream

This flowchart is widely used for product development and manufacturing to show how resources and information flow at a system level.

3. Workflow

This flowchart helps everyone in a team know their responsibilities and who’s accountable for what. It is similar to a process flowchart, but instead of focussing on steps in a process, it focuses on tasks to be completed and by whom.

4. Swimlane

This is a more complex flowchart that further breaks down the flow of activities into columns that show different visual categories for different roles and responsibilities.

5. Data

If you deal with data management and processing for your projects, this flowchart helps you understand how data is processed and used at various levels.

Ready to Start Using Flowcharts for Project Management?

If you’re not using flowcharts for project management, it’s high time that you start. Flowcharts can help you streamline processes and manage your projects more efficiently.

Also, don’t forget to use a good project management tool to further improve your project management process and deliver the best output to your clients. Good luck!

Need more help? Check out the Zentao blog. They have more articles on project management tools, software management, building cross-functional teams, and so much more.


Author bio :

Gaurav Sharma is the founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. Grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years | 10X leads | 2.8X conversions | 300K organic monthly traffic. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Business 2 Community, TechCrunch, and more.

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